Stencil Sponging

by Loll Thompson

Learn the basics for stenciling and shading with sponge daubers.


  • Cardstock (or mixed media, watercolor paper, etc.)
  • Stencil (Lovely Large Flower by Studio 490 used here)
  • Inks (Distress inks used here: Spiced Marmalade, Barn Door, Twisted Citron, Mowed Lawn)
  • Sponge daubers
  • Painter’s tape


  1. Step 1

    Secure the cardstock and stencil in place using painter’s tape.

  2. Step 2

    Working in one section at a time, use tape to mask off any areas of the stencil that you do not want inked.

  3. Step 3

    Sponge a base of the lightest color ink, using a circular motion. Once you have a coating of ink on the paper, you can add more ink, increasing pressure to make it darker.

  4. Use a smaller applicator for more detailed application and control in shading.

  5. Step 4

    Continue around the stencil, moving masks as needed to isolate the color to each area.

  6. Adjust the size of your applicator to each layer of color – a larger dauber for the base color, and smaller finger dauber for detailed areas and shading.

  7. Step 5

    Remove the tape and stencil to reveal your completed design.

  8. Step 6

    Add details as desired with a gel pen, fine liner, or colored pencils.

  9. Step 7

    Complete the project.


Your Turn

You've seen the tutorial, now you try it! We've got a section of the gallery set aside for Stencil Sponging. Try this technique, then upload your artwork to the gallery. Show us your creations!

***Please note - Internet Explorer/Edge is not a supported browser, and will not allow you to see the videos. Please use Chrome, Firefox or Safari to view our tutorial videos.

Questions and Comments

We'd love to get your feedback or questions. Leave your comment below.

Thank you. A great tutorial, simple but the results so effective. Now I'm on the hunt for new stencils!
Jeanette Robertson  |  Wed Feb 27, 2019 at 5:24 AM
Thanks for the tutorial...this is something I definitely want to work on. I love the finished card, especially the border that really wows.
Valerie Peterson  |  Wed Feb 27, 2019 at 6:19 AM
Excellent tutorial. It is nice to see how a few basic techniques and limited supplies can be used to create a stunning card front. Many times, beauty can be found through simplicity. Thank you for clear examples of the stenciling and blending techniques.
Rdog2  |  Wed Feb 27, 2019 at 6:47 AM
Love this technique....
Pat Crossland  |  Wed Feb 27, 2019 at 6:50 AM
I absolutely love the added doodling in your examples. Well done, and a lovely stenciling job too wink
Julie Heyer  |  Wed Feb 27, 2019 at 7:40 AM
Great tutorial and I loved the variations you showed at the end. Thanks for the inspiration!!
Laura  |  Wed Feb 27, 2019 at 7:51 AM
So cool! The added pen work just POPS your image. Love this! TFS
Mutnik  |  Wed Feb 27, 2019 at 8:45 AM
Beautiful and so simple! This is my kind of card to make... easy, not complicated, and gorgeous when complete. Love it! Thanks for sharing!
Cathey  |  Wed Feb 27, 2019 at 10:27 AM
I love your photo and video tutorial, Loll. Your tutorials are always so professional, friendly, helpful and short:-) Your sample cards are all so beautiful and inspiring. TFS. Hugs..
nancy littrell  |  Wed Feb 27, 2019 at 4:01 PM
Great tutorial! Can I use other ink rather than Distressed Inks?
Trina Sleper  |  Wed Feb 27, 2019 at 7:09 PM
Trina, sure! Most inks can be used for stenciling. Try what you have and see what you like.
dina  |  Thu Feb 28, 2019 at 8:34 PM
So simple yet so lovely. I have to check my stencils for a flower design!
Cindy Curry  |  Fri Mar 1, 2019 at 9:57 AM
Thanks so much for sharing the great tutorial with the beautiful samples, Loll! It's clear, inspiring, and easy to follow.
Hideko  |  Sun Mar 3, 2019 at 4:39 PM
Beautiful. I must go try this. Thank you for sharing your talent!
Debbie Zook  |  Tue Mar 12, 2019 at 7:53 AM

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